A record number of 46 countries applied to play Olympic ice hockey with a men’s team but only 12 will be able to do so. Host China and the top eight nations of the world – Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the United States, Germany and Switzerland – have their tickets to Beijing secured. That means the remaining 37 applicants will battle for three remaining spots.
The four-stage Olympic Qualification begins this week. In each round the tournament winners advance to the next round. The Final Olympic Qualification will take place 27-30 August 2020. Click here for the overview.
As of Thursday Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Kuwait and Thailand will play in an all-Asian Group O in Sanya on the Chinese island of Hainan. On Friday Group N begins in Kockelscheuer with host Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kyrgyzstan.
As for many teams in this early stage playing the Olympic Qualification is a premiere for host Luxembourg and doing it at home at Patinoire de Kockelscheuer makes it even sweeter as we found out from long-time national players Colm Cannon and Benny Welter. They speak in the video below, as does head coach Petr Fical, an Olympian himself as a player with Germany in Turin 2006.
You can follow Group N with a live stream, live ticker and stats on the tournament’s event page on IIHF.com as of Friday. The live stream will be visible in the game centre during the games.
Already on Thursday Group O begins in Sanya and you can find the live ticker and stats on the event page of the group.